By TODD MOORE
Barton Sports Info
The 11th ranked Barton Community College men's soccer team earned eight post-season honors, two of which were top All-KJCCC West Team honors in Kotaro Natsume named the Defensive Player of the Year while Rafael Simmons was crowned the West's Coach of the Year.
Rafael Simmons, Barton Men's Soccer Head CoachUnder first year head coach Simmons, the eight-pack helped lead the Cougars to the program's 12th Jayhawk West title in concluding the conference season at 7-3. Climbing to as high as No. 5 in the NJCAA polls during the season, the Cougars had their season come to a crashing end 1-0 in double overtime of the Region VI/Plains District semifinals in wrapping up the year 14-5-1 and ranked 11th in the final poll.
Simmons took over the program in March of 2022, rebuilding the squad in both personnel and scheme to surpass its second place pre-season conference prediction to win the West title for the first time since 2019 and the 12th overall.
Barton had two of its four All-West 1st team selections land on the first team of the All-Region VI team in Genildo Postimo and Rui Aoki while Natsume ended up on the 2nd team of the region voting and Kimito Fritz came up shy on making the twenty-three member region squad.
Four Cougars also earned 2nd team All-West selections, Tajay Grant, Victor Lucca, Henrique Cruz, and Dennis Bottcher.
Kotaro Natsume - KJCCC West "Defensive Player of the Year" 1st Team All-KCCC West Division/2nd Team All-Region VI Division I
In addition to Simmons' top getting on the coaching award, Natsume was named the West Division's top defender.
The 5'6" defender from Shizuoka, Japan, was a key returner from last year's squad helping Barton to five shutouts while adding a key goal in an early season win versus Indian Hills and the game winning assist in victory at Otero.
KJCCC West Division Selections Region VI Division I Selections
Genildo Postimo – 1st Team All-KJCCC West Division/All-Region VI Division I
Postimo was a crucial returner for the Cougars, coming back for his third year due to Covid exemptions providing leadership and a constant offensive threat from his forward position.
Beginning his final year as a Cougar providing the game winner in the season opener, Postimo found the net twice more including another difference maker in the 1-0 victory at Garden City.
The Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, native also delivered four assists, two leading to the game winner including his two-assist game leading a 3-2 comeback win at 13th ranked Coffeyville.
Rui Aoki – 1st Team All-KJCCC West Division/All-Region VI Division I
Like Postimo on the offensive attack, Aoki was a key returner for the backline defense.
Anchoring the defensive line, the sophomore from Ashiya, Japan, helped the Cougars to six shutouts in his seventeen games played.
Kimito Fritz – 1st Team All-KJCCC West Division
The freshman from Tokyo, Japan, worked his way into the starting lineup to also provide stability and fortitude from the defensive end.
Setting up two of Barton's goals during the season, Fritz was a part of two electrifying net shakers the first leading to a strike-of-the-year candidate setting up Lucas Constante's half volley sealing a win at Otero while his other assist kick-started a counter-play igniting Barton's two-goal deficit comeback victory at 13th ranked Coffeyville.
Tajay Grant – 2nd Team All-KJCCC West Division
Grant was the Cougars' main threat of the offense end, leading the conference in rattling the net 8 times for a 19 total points.
A three-time KJCCC Offensive Player of the Week, the sophomore from St. Catherine, Jamaica, finished second in the region with 14 goals and third overall with 32 points.
Beginning the season with a goal, Grant chalked up his first collegiate hat-trick in leading Barton to 4-2 neutral field victory over Indian Hills. Grant posted three additional multi-goal performances leading to narrow victories and distributed four assists during the year, three setting up the game winners including wins at Garden City and knocking off 3rd ranked Cowley.
Victor Lucca – 2nd Team All-KJCCC West Division
A 1st team All-Conference and Region VI performer last season, Lucca was another key returner leading to Barton's title.
The sophomore from Teixeira de Freitas, Brazil, finished second on the team with 13 points behind 5 goals and 3 assists which included an assist and game winning goal in the Cougars' comeback victory at 13th ranked Coffeyville
Henrique Cruz – 2nd Team All-KJCCC West Division
Joining Fritz to the give the Cougars a pair of freshmen along the defensive line, the freshman from Sao Paulo, Brazil, made an immediate impact in the starting lineup.
Dennis Bottcher – 2nd Team All-KJCCC West Division
Protecting the pipes for over 1400 minutes throughout the season, Bottcher captained the defense to five shutouts in his sixteen games played.
The two-time KJCCC Goalkeeper of the Week posted two of the clean slates in conference play preserving a pair of 1-0 victories behind 9 combined saves in knocking off 3rd ranked Cowley and on the road at Garden City.
The freshman from Solingen, Germany, completed the year with 51 saves and a .718 save percentage.